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Western Animation / C.O.P.S. (1988)

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"It's Crime-Fighting Time."

"C.O.P.S. Central Organization of Police Specialists. Fighting crime in a future time. Protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks."
Bulletproof's Opening Narration

C.O.P.S., which stands for Central Organization of Police Specialists, was an animated series produced by DiC Entertainment that premiered in 1988 as one of the many Merchandise-Driven 65-Episode Cartoons made for First-Run Syndication. A few years later, it was re-run on CBS' Saturday morning schedule, this time under the name Cyber COPS for obvious reasons. The show was based on a toy line called C.O.P.S 'n' Crooks, which were futuristic police and criminal based action figures produced by Hasbro.

Set in the year 2020, the show took place in the metropolis Empire City. The main story revolved around Agent Baldwin P. Vess, codename "Bulletproof", who has been sent out to stop Big Boss (no relation), a criminal mastermind who has taken over the city. However, after being attacked by the henchmen of Big Boss and suffering a near-fatal wound, Vess is taken to the hospital and given a new bullet-resistant torso. While he is recovering, he contacts Officer P.J. O'Malley (a.k.a. LongArm) and rookie Donny Brooks (HardTop) to find the best law enforcement officers around. They are able to recruit several people. Among them are David E. "Highway" Harlson, Colt "Mace" Howards, Stan "Barricade" Hyde, Tina "Mainframe" Cassidy, Walker "Sundown" Calhoun, Suzie "Mirage" Young, Hugh S. "Bullseye" Forward, and Rex "Bowser" Pointer and his robot dog, Blitz. Together these people make up C.O.P.S., using their combined power to stop Big Boss.

At the very same time as the cartoon, there was also a C.O.P.S. comic book by DC Comics, which had a much different storyline that was Darker and Edgier.

Compare with You're Under Arrest!, an anime with a similar (if not more realistic & relatively modern) perspective.

Central Organization of Trope Specialists:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: A cartoon from the 1980s that takes place in 2020.
  • Action Figure File Card: The toys had them; they were written by Larry Hama, who also wrote the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cards. This may explain the Checkpoint/Beach Head connection noted in All There in the Manual.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Small Guy and his gang utilize Type B of this in "The Case of the Baby Badguy's Return", as each member is around two feet tall and pass themselves off as Mrs. Pinchadime's grandchildren, despite having the heads of middle aged men. It works, mainly due to Mrs. Pinchadime being nearsighted and slightly senile.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: One episode centered around prototype robots that served as both police and judges. The project was an abysmal failure because Big Boss bribed one of the project leads into altering the judgement algorithms so they would always find his people innocent, even when they were caught red-handed. As a side effect, they also tended to sentence random civilians to multi-decade prison sentences for petty misdemeanors, making it a wonder that the program lasted as long as it did.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Clues in the action figure profiles reveal that a member of C.O.P.S. (Checkpoint) is the descendant of a G.I. Joe member (Beach Head).
    • Likewise for the setting date of 2020. They never once mention this in the series proper; only supplemental materials set an exact year.
    • The real names of most of the Crooks go unmentioned throughout the entire series. The only exception to this is Nightshade, whose real name (Rafaella Diamond) is brought up in "The Case of Mace's Romance". The C.O.P.S. themselves aren't much better. Aside from Bulletproof prior to his surgery, the rest of them get called off by their real names exactly once in "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1 Part 2".
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The fast paced Title Sequence.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: One-off villain Addictum from "The Case of the Lowest Crime" operated this way, trying to sell his drug, "Crystal Twist" to a pair of girls, who promptly told the C.O.P.S.
  • Amnesia Episode: "The Case of the Missing Memory", wherein Sundown loses his memory after a blow to the head, and the Crooks try to trick him into helping them rob an armored van.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Berserko makes such a remark in "The Case of the Midas Touch".
    Berserko: If he's an innocent bystander, then I'm the tooth fairy!
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Occasionally, with live-action segments!
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Every Crook, regardless of their sentence, was out by the next episode and Big Boss roamed free despite everyone knowing he was a criminal, to maintain the status quo, although this can be explained by the fact that this show didn't really have any kind of direct continuity other than the file numbers given at the beginning and end of each episode. In any case, Empire City barely has more crime than Mayberry because one crime lord runs all the crime in the city and barely does more than bank robberies or technology thefts.note 
    • Perhaps the worst case is the two-parter "The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan" where Big Boss kidnaps the President of the United States, forces the C.O.P.S. into prison, and runs Empire City as his own personal domain. In the episode he's merely beaten and humiliated, with the incident eventually forgotten. In real life, he'd have had the Secret Service and the U.S. military on him so fast his head would spin, and at best he'd have ended up in prison for life on multiple charges of terrorism and treason (among a pile of other charges) for even trying it. This episode overall is so full of mistakes regarding real-life law enforcement and the security of the US president that it may be the reason later episodes (in production order, anyway) seem to ignore it happened. The Secret Service isn't present at all and the president takes her trip on a train with practically NO security as well as public knowledge of the trip. In real life she would have taken Air Force One and been surrounded by security.
    • In "The Case of the Lawless Lady", Mace is unwilling to shoot Shredder, a vicious guard dog, since the dog is just doing his job of protecting the store. However, when the store's owner ordered Shredder to attack Mace, Highway and Nightshade, one of them could've shot Shredder out of self defense and been in the clear, but this never occurs to them, and Mace resorts to using Nightshade's knockout lipstick to incapacitate Shredder by kissing him.
  • Ax-Crazy: Buttons McBoomBoom really loves to shoot things. His Establishing Character Moment is right there on the opening credits when he ruins a robbery by wrecking a room with gunfire just because he didn't liked a butterfly that was flying around.
  • Badass Crew: The Central Organization of Police Specialists fit this to a T.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: In "The Case of the Big Boss' Master Plan" Berserko kidnaps the United States President (who is an African American woman) with this method.
  • Balloonacy: As a birthday present for Big Boss, Berserko tried to steal the Cornucopia Bridge, by inflating the world's largest balloon and blowing up the supports. The C.O.P.S. stop him before he can fire the explosives so we don't see the bridge fly, but their reaction upon seeing the huge balloon inflated inside the bridge says that it wouldn't work.
  • Banana Peel: Buttons McBoomBoom slips on a banana peel in "The Case of the Bad Luck Burglar".
  • Beauty Contest: Big Boss send Nightshade and Ms. Demeanor in a beauty pageant to get his hands on the prizes. He also had the judges replaced with his goons. The C.O.P.S. had Mainframe enter the contest to stop the ploy. In the aftermath, the real judges declared Nightshade the winner. Unfortunately, because her accomplices tampered with the process, she was disqualified.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Small Guy and his henchmen sneak out of the Lopsided Orphanage by climbing a ladder of bed sheets out the window in "The Case of the Baby Bad Guy".
  • Berserk Button: Buttons really hated insects, to the point of sending out his double machine-guns at the mere sight of one.
    • At the beginning of one episode, he's trying to kill a fly with a Tommy gun, and almost shoots Rock Krusher numerous times.
  • Big Bad: Big Boss is the main villain.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: Nightshade in "The Case of the Lawless Lady".
    Nightshade: [after incapacitating the real jewel thief] You're under arrest! Ew... I can't believe I said that...
  • Bound and Gagged: Seemed to happen on a fairly regular basis to the C.O.P.S. members. Both female C.O.P.S. got this on at least one occasion.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During "The Case of the Lawless Lady", Mace turns down a waiter's suggestion of a cocktail, stating that he doesn't drink. The waiter responds by saying "Good for you, sir.". As the waiter walks away, he says to himself "Ordinarily I wouldn't have said that, but this is television."
  • Breath-Holding Brat: Prince Baddin, the spoiled son of the King of Rashiland, uses this technique to blackmail Longarm and Hardtop into taking him shopping for toys in "The Case of the Ransomed Rascal".
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A variation in "The Case of the Lowest Crime", the C.O.P.S. team were being overwhelmed by Crystal Twist addicts being brought in for lock-up.
    Bulletproof: Two hundred Crystal Twist addicts this week! And it's only Tuesday!
  • Butt Biter: In "The Case of the Crook with a Thousand Faces", Blitz bites into a man's rear to prevent him from falling down an elevator shaft.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: "The Case of Mukluk's Luck" has a scene where Mukluk, Bullet and Rock Krusher enter a dark cave and are only seen by their eyes.
  • Canada, Eh?: Inspector Yukon of the Mounties shows up in two episodes, "The Case of the Iceberg Pirates" and "The Case of Mukluk's Luck". In true cartoon fashion, he wears the typical Red Serge uniform.
  • Captivity Harmonica: Sundown plays a harmonica while waiting in a cell in "The Case of the Disappearing Dough".
  • Casanova Wannabe: Highway, although mostly in the comic.
  • The Case of...: The episode titles all began with "The Case of...", for example "The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan".
  • Catchphrase:
    • '"It's Crime Fighting Time!" and "Crime's a Wastin!"
    • Bulletproof also has "Here's how the caper came down..." and "Case closed".
    • Buzzbomb's beeping often becomes a robotic version of "Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya!", a common children's taunt.
    • At the climax of almost every episode: "Freeze! We're C.O.P.S., and you're under arrest!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "The Case of the Giveaway Gold", Highway bakes some cookies for the rest of the C.O.P.S. team (Mace even pockets several). Unfortunately, Highway turned out to be a Lethal Chef in which his cookies were incredibly hard, even Blitz, a robotic dog, couldn't bite into one. Near the end of the episode, Mace gets taken prisoner by Big Boss and Dr. Badvibes, but manages to escape. He demands the two crooks to turn off the detonator machine, to which Badvibes scoffs, saying he can't do anything since they've taken his weapons. Mace then weaponizes the cookies he pocketed earlier, which destroyed the machine, much to the crooks' horror.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Nightshade. She actually came from a rich family.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: In "The Case of the Blur Bandits" Dr. BadVibes makes custom speed suits for the Crooks that give them Super-Speed, making them so fast that not even Highway can't keep up with them until he gets his hand on Turbo Tu-Tone's suit that happens to be his size.
  • Code Name: Each COP and Crook has one.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: In "The Case of Criminal Games" Berserko accidentally cuts his suspenders, causing his pants to fall down and revealing blue underwear with smiley faces.
  • Communications Officer: Airwave.
  • Contemporary Caveman: "The Case of the Cool Caveman" features a caveman thawing out and befriending Longarm's son.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "The Case of the Big Frame Up" Mickey just happens to get a cellmate who worked for J.J. Parker, the guy who accused him, and also worked for Nightshade.
  • Dame with a Case: In "The Case of Big Boss' Bye Bye", Bulletproof briefly becomes a private eye after Mayor Davis disbands the C.O.P.S. team following Big Boss and the C.R.O.O.K.S.' feigned retirement. He is shown on his first day, dozing off at his desk; Mainframe walks into his office. The scene, provided with Bulletproof's voice-over narration, is clearly a spoof on the trope: as Mainframe walks in, the camera shows her from the legs up. She wakes Bulletproof up and tells him that she has a tip about an upcoming heist by the C.R.O.O.K.S. (By a Contrived Coincidence, Buttons McBoomBoom had popped into the dating agency where she is now working and indicated that he was about to get very rich). Then, several former C.O.P.S. foil a train robbery that the C.R.O.O.K.S. had attempted on a train carrying federal funds to Empire City, resulting in their team being re-formed as necessary after all.
  • Dating Catwoman: The affair between Sgt. Mace and Nightshade.
  • Days of Future Past: A mild example. While the series takes place 20 Minutes into the Future, the setting takes some of its cues from the gangster films of The '30s.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: In "The Case of the Criminal Mall", Dr. Badvibes shoots goo at the lens of the security camera of a mall that he is breaking into.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Nightshade entering, then ripping off, a beauty pageant (which she would've won fairly, had she held off for five minutes).
  • Donut Mess with a Cop:
    • Mace is shown taking a bite out of a donut and tossing it aside before apprehending a pair of crooks in the first part of the two-part episode "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1".
    • In "The Case of the Baby Bad Guy", Longarm remarks that he needs to cut back on the donuts when Small Guy eludes Longarm by going through an opening he's too big to follow him through.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "The Case of the Lowest Crime". Slightly more ballsy than your usual 80's anti-drug episode, portraying the addiction as truly life-wrecking, even going so far as to say some of the victims never fully recovered.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The final issue of the comics had the C.O.P.S. take down Big Boss through a Batman Gambit centered around Big Boss overreacting to the police showing up to talk to him about his gang's unpaid parking tickets. At one point Berserko suggests to his uncle that they get the police to go away by paying the fines. He is promptly glared into silence - apparently hardened criminals aren't supposed to pass up the opportunity to commit a crime, even when doing so gains them nothing.
  • Dumb Muscle: Rock Krusher and Berserko are both muscular brutes and not very bright.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • In the initial episodes, Big Boss was a known criminal to the general public and would make open threats against the entire city using public broadcast monitors. Later on, he was regarded as a legit businessman with merely suspected but unproven criminal ties, and his own mother was unaware of any of this—which even Big Boss begged the C.O.P.S. to keep quiet because the knowledge could've upset or even killed her.
    • The initial character concept artwork, used on the toy packages, gives Bulletproof a purple coat and black pants, and Dr. Badvibes has a normal-sized brain with a small dome over it. The Larry Hama file cards also have a superficial connection with the cartoon at best.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Berzerko may be dumb as a rock and a liability to his operations, but being his nephew, Big Boss keeps him around and even allies with the C.O.P.S. when he's almost killed by an accidental drug overdose. He also goes out of his way to keep his own mother from finding out that he's a criminal. because he doesn't want her hurt by the knowledge of it.
    • There's also Nightshade, who has a little sister who doesn't know she's a crook.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Big Boss refusing to help sell a designer drug because "Drugs kill!" His nephew Berserko nearly dying from an accidental overdose of the drug didn't help, although he'd already turned the dealer down before then. Berserko's near-death led to a temporary truce between the C.O.P.S. team and Big Boss' gang until they caught the drug dealer.
      Big Boss: Shut up! In my time, I’ve committed many crimes, I want to earn money in the worst possible way, but selling drugs is where I draw the line, creep! DRUGS KILL!
    • In "The Case of the Bogus Bride", Berserko states that polygamy is illegal in Empire City and is apparently unwilling to violate that law.
      Berserko: I can't marry both of them. It ain't legal!!
    • Nightshade is implied to be an example. She may not even really be evil at all, even if she is a Crook.
  • Every Skateboard Is a Pinto: "The Case of The Bogus Justice Machines" has two kids fall off their skateboards which run into a stack of boxes and explode. Seriously.
  • Every Episode Ending: Bulletproof gives the lowdown on how everything ultimately turned out and repeats both the file number and episode name followed by "Case Closed".
  • Everything is Big in Texas: Sundown specifically points this out when he can't fit into Turbo Tu-Tone's Super-Speed suit. "Shoot, this thing's plum too small! Sorry, but we're grown big down in Texas."
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Nightshade's favorite target.
  • Fair Cop: Pretty much all of them, seeing as in most cases here, Beauty Equals Goodness.
    • While it's not her defining trait, Mainframe is beautiful (and talented) enough to enter a beauty pageant as an Undercover Model to counter the Crooks' own entries of Nightshade and Ms. Demeanor since the latter two will undoubtedly cheat (and do.) Nightshade wins fairly, surprisingly, but then gets disqualified for the cheating. See Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat above.
  • Fantastic Drug: Crystal Twist, a hexagon-shaped crystal that glows when absorbed through the skin. In "The Case of the Lowest Crime," Berserko falls into a crate full of the stuff and goes into a coma.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted. While a bit more hi-tech, given the setting, all the guns shown shoot real bullets. Mace's laser bazooka is the exception. However, the cops don't actually shoot the bullets at crooks, preferring to use Improbable Aiming Skills to trigger environmental effects to trip them up, like bursting pipes.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: In "The Case of The Brilliant Berserko", Berserko steals a "chess crown" meant to augment intelligence and becomes a well-mannered (if still criminal) supergenius. In the middle of the episode, the battery momentarily fails, setting up the common "it's just temporary" plot - but subverting it when he gets it working again almost immediately.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Lampshaded in "The Case of the Lawless Lady", where a waiter asks Mace if he wants a cocktail, and Mace says he doesn't drink. The waiter says, "Very good, sir!", walks off, and promptly says, "Normally I wouldn't have said that, but this is television..."
  • Fun T-Shirt: In the toy line, Berserko's shirt said "BAAAD is Good!"
  • Fun with Acronyms: C.O.P.S. stands for Central Organization of Police Specialists.
  • Future Society, Present Values: Mainframe's sexual misconduct in the workplace towards Mace is a reflection of such behavior being more tolerated in the era in which the cartoon was made than in the 21st century, in which the show is set.
  • Gonk Pretty much all the bad guys except Nightshade aren't too good-looking. Ms. Demeanor is a rare example of a female character in such a cartoon who fits.
    • This could be pinned to Peter Chung's work on the series — while the C.O.P.S. and Nightshade all look normal, everyone else clearly shows signs of his art style. Several characters could be stuck into episodes of Phantom 2040 or Æon Flux and not be out of place.
  • Goo Goo Getup: Small Guy and his gang dress up as babies in "The Case of the Baby Badguy", so as to trick the owner of an orphanage into giving them a place to stay/hide.
  • The Great Whodini: One of the characters from the unreleased third series of action figures was an evil Stage Magician named "The Great Felloni".
  • Helicopter Pack: Airwave uses one. Vowels, a character from the unreleased third wave of the action figure line, would have had one as well.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Case of the Crooked Contest", the C.O.P.S. crack down on the Crooks who are rigging a beauty contest to ensure that Nightshade will win. When this happens, Nightshade decides to steal the grand prize for herself, but ultimately gets arrested. This disqualifies her from the contest, which she later finds out that she would have won anyway. So, had Nightshade not stolen the grand prize, she would have won it legitimately.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Bulletproof and Buttons McBoomBoom. Also Blitz, in Robocop fashion.
  • Humongous Mecha: We see that in the future pro sports incorporate these in "Case of the Big Bad Boxoids": there's no such thing as regular boxing anymore, instead they have two guys in twenty-foot mechsuits punching each other. Because, as the show says, no athletes get hurt this way.
  • The Hyena: The member of Big Boss' gang actually named Hyena. His Action Figure File Card notes that he's been "laughing continuously since childhood" and failed as a stand-up comic since he never stopped laughing at his own jokes — while the audience never started laughing at them.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is titled "The Case of..."
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: One toy-only villain has dozens of weapons related crimes on his rap sheet, but no violent crimes, thanks entirely to the fact that he's such a terrible shot that he's never actually managed to hit anything.
  • Initialism Title: The title is an acronym standing for Central Organization of Police Specialists.
  • Invisible Main Character: "The Case of the Invisible Crime" is about Dr. Badvibes using a machine to render Berserko and Turbo invisible so that they can commit crimes unseen.
  • Klingon Promotion: In "The Case of the Crime Convention", Big Boss implies that he wasn't the first Big Boss and that he supplanted his predecessor after eliminating him.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the final issue of the comic, the team went after Big Boss for an unpaid parking ticket, knowing that his gang would try to stop them—and racking up tons of charges they could pin on the previously untouchable Big Boss. As he was being put in the paddy wagon, he proclaimed that they'd never be able to make the charges stick, and that sort of thing happened only in comic books. Bulletproof turned to the reader and said, "That's good enough for me."
  • Last Episode, New Character: Airwave in "The Case of The Invisible Crime". He's one of the few characters from the second wave of the toy line to appear on the show.
  • Lawful Stupid: When Ms. Demeanor is arrested and sentenced to an experimental rehabilitation program, she is made to wear a mind-altering tiara that forces her to abide to the law. All laws. By the book. She finds a car parked three inches out of a space into a red zone and lifts it out by hand, destroying its tires (and presumably its suspension) when she drops it back down. The judge decides to pull the plug on the project when she arrests him for littering.
  • Leave Him to Me!: When Sundown's crooked former partner comes calling, he's taken off the case because it's too close to him - but he just can't let Johnny Yuma get away without a word.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: You know the C.O.P.S. are about to start thwarting the criminal scheme of the week when someone (usually Bulletproof) says "It's crime fighting time!"
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Badvibes of Big Boss' gang.
  • Magitek: The Midas Glove from "The Case of the Midas Touch" appears to be this. It's stated to be an antique and has the power to turn things into gold, yet is shown to have electronic circuitry inside of it.
  • Meaningful Name: BP "Bulletproof" Vess.
    • Prince Baddin of Rashiland is in fact a naughty boy. In the epilogue to the episode in which he appears ("The Case of the Ransomed Rascal"), Bulletproof mentions that due to him keeping his resolve to change his behavior, the King officially changed his name to "Goodin".
  • Merchandise-Driven: Like a lot of cartoons at the time, this one was made to promote a toyline.
  • Midas Touch: "The Case of the Midas Touch" focuses on the mysterious Midas Glove that can turn anything into gold. The glove gets stuck on Squeeky Kleen's hand and leads to chaos throughout Empire City.
  • Mirror Match: In "The Case of the Bulletproof Waldo", Big Boss has Bulletproof kidnapped and replaced by a robotic lookalike to deter the C.O.P.S. from doing their duty. Once rescued by Bowser and Blitz, Bulletproof confronts the clone and they two have it out with each other, with the real Bulletproof defeating the robot clone by throwing him out the window.
  • Monster Clown: The unreleased third series of the action figure line would have featured a whole gang of them called the Pranksters, led by an evil Stage Magician called The Great Felloni.
  • Monumental Theft: As a birthday present for Big Boss, Berserko tried to steal the Cornucopia Bridge.
  • Motor Mouth: Airwave in "The Case of The Invisible Crime".
  • Mundane Solution: In one episode, Barricade and Mainframe find themselves trapped in a room with a rampaging robot bull. Barricade makes a plan to try to disable it by hitting its control panel with his battering ram. Mainframe simply unplugs its power cord.
  • Mundane Utility: Rock Krusher has stolen an experimental suit that can become real hot and can melt through anything. He used it to commit robberies and the cops are helpless to stop him. Then comes dinner and he uses the suit to roast hot dogs.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • In "The Case of Big Boss' Bye-Bye", Mainframe figures out that Big Boss and his gang are going to come out of retirement to do a big surprise heist when Buttons McBoomBoom goes to her new place of employment (a computer dating service) and mentions to her that he's going to become rich in the near future while she's setting up his profile. She takes that information to Bulletproof, who quickly figures out how he's planning to become rich overnight and then they take action to stop it.
    • In "The Case of the Ransomed Rascal", the Crooks have kidnapped Prince Baddin of Rashiland and are trying to ransom him back from his father for one billion dollars. However, the Crooks discover that Baddin is just that annoying towards them, that they give him back to the C.O.P.S. for free. You'd think that the Crooks could've just tolerated Baddin's behavior for a few more hours until his dad came back from Rashiland with the money, or maybe tie/lock up the prince for a few hours instead of letting him run around everywhere.
    • In "The Case of the Brilliant Berserko", Berserko with his intelligence-enhancing crown has Bulletproof, Hardtop and Longarm cornered and is about to capture them after some Evil Gloating. Just when his victory seems imminent, Dr. Badvibes arrives to steal the crown. This gives the Cops the chance they need to escape and apprehend the two criminals, and Longarm lampshades it: "There's no telling what would have happened if Berserko had remained brilliant but greed and envy set in."
  • No Ontological Inertia:
    • The Midas Glove from "The Case of the Midas Glove" has the power to turn anything it touches into gold. Fortunately, it also contains a failsafe mechanism that can be used to automatically revert everything that's been turned to gold back to normal.
    • "The Case of the Invisible Crime" featured Dr. Badvibes' invisibility machine. Once it is destroyed, it causes all the Crooks who have used it to suddenly become visible again.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: While his father, the King of Rashiland, speaks in a decidedly foreign accent, young Prince Baddin speaks with a generic General American/TV accent.
  • Not Me This Time: In "The Case of the Lawless Lady", several jewelry stores have been robbed, prompting Highway to suspect Nightshade being the culprit since jewel theft is her MO. Mace disagrees due to the manner of the break-ins as they were more like thuggish smash-and-grabs and not stealthy thefts that Nightshade's known for. Turns out Mace is right, as the real culprit was the owner of the Omicron jewelry store, the only one NOT robbed and the one Nightshade actually tried to steal from.
  • The Nudifier: In "The Case of the Spotless Kingpin", Big Boss has a suit made of a material that repels dirt, but ends up with a suit that attracts dirt instead because his suit got chemicals spilled on it during a skirmish with the C.O.P.S. At the end of the episode, Big Boss's assistant Squeeky Kleen uses an antidote that succeeds in getting rid of the dirt covering Big Boss, but has the side effect of destroying Big Boss's clothes, leaving him in an undershirt and boxer shorts with pigs on them.
  • Off Stage Waiting Room: In "The Case of Big Boss' Bye Bye", Mayor Davis disbands the C.O.P.S. team as redundant while Big Boss' gang feigns retirement. The plot then shifts to only four of the ex-members, Bulletproof, Highway, Mace, and Mainframe and only their fates are shownnote  until Big Boss and his gang come out of "retirement", the four ex-C.O.P.S. thwart their plans to rob a train carrying federal funds meant for relieving Empire City's financial crisis, and Mayor Davis re-forms the C.O.P.S. team. What the other members of the team were doing during the period of the team's disbandment is never shown; other C.O.P.S are shown returning to work at the end, though.
  • Oh, Crap!: All of the Crooks have a shocked/horrified expression as they're caught in the Title Sequence.
  • Once an Episode: At some point in most episodes, when the C.O.P.S. have the Crooks cornered, they will say "C.O.P.S.! You're under arrest!"note 
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Virtually all of the C.O.P.S. and Crooks, to the point that Longarm is exclusively referred to by his codename by both his father and his son.
  • Origins Episode: The two-part episode "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1" reveals the circumstances of Bulletproof becoming a cyborg in addition to the founding of C.O.P.S. and their first confrontation with Big Boss and his goons.
  • Parking Payback: When Ms. Demeanour is made to wear a mind-altering tiara that forces her to abide to the law, she finds a car parked three inches out of a space into a red zone and lifts it out by hand, destroying its tires (and presumably its suspension) when she drops it back down.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: "The Case of the Ransomed Rascal" has Big Boss and his goons kidnap Prince Baddin, the bratty prince of Rashiland, in hopes of holding him for ransom. They quickly get so tired of his antics that they immediately send him to the C.O.P.S. in a crate. The C.O.P.S. open the crate to see that Baddin is wearing a shirt reading "Take Him Back" on the front and "Please" on the back.
  • Police Are Useless: Defied. The C.O.P.S. are anything but incompetent and always prevail in thwarting the schemes of Big Boss and his lackeys.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: "The Case of the Sinister Spa" has a plot that involves the mayor of Empire City being hypnotized into making Berserko deputy mayor. One scene has Berserko as deputy mayor kissing a baby, who reacts by crying.
  • Power Fist: Big Boss has a cybernetic left hand that gets a workout whenever he gets really steamed.
  • Practically Joker: Hyena has quite a few similarities to The Joker. His Action Figure File Card notes that he's "a criminal mastermind, capable of concocting and planning [the] most elaborate heists between fits of uncontrolled hilarity", his weapons include an Electric Joy Buzzer and Explosive Cigars, and one of his aliases is "Joe Kerr". Also, his past as a failed stand-up comic recalls The Killing Joke.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Big Boss's flunkies Berserko and Rock Krusher are both essentially giant children.
    • The Baby Badguys are this to the point that they mess up their own plans fighting over a rattle.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few, such as a huge white fox coat among the prizes Nightshade tried to steal from a Beauty Contest. It turns out she could have even kept it if she hadn't tried to steal them.
  • Public Service Announcement/And Knowing Is Half the Battle: After every episode.
  • Punny Name: Many of the names, including "Ms. Demeanor".
  • The Quiet One: Buttons McBoomBoom has speaking roles in very few episodes. Adding on to this, he has a low, sinister voice.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Big Boss does this while working on his keynote speech for the crime convention. "The hotel management would like me to inform you that someone has been stealing towels. Pause for laugh..."
  • Restraining Bolt: When Ms. Demeanor is arrested and sentenced to an experimental rehabilitation program, she is made to wear a mind-altering tiara.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Big Boss' pet Scratch is actually a weasel, because subtlety is for chumps.
  • Robot Buddy: Buzzbomb, Dr. Badvibes' assistant.
  • Rogues Gallery: Fittingly enough, given that this is a police show. The recurring enemies are: Big Boss, Berserko, Dr. Badvibes, Nightshade, Buttons McBoomBoom, Rock Krusher, Ms. Demeanor, and Turbo Tu-Tone.
  • Ruritania: "The Case of the Ransomed Rascal" centers on an official visit to Empire City by the King of "Rashiland" (sp?), who brings along his naughty son Prince Baddin. The King looks a lot like a 19th-century monarch, complete with facial hair a la Emperor Franz Josef, but the Prince looks like an average North American kid.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: "The Case of the Crook with a Thousand Faces" ends with Dr. Badvibes' shape-shifting robot Shifty overloading and falling over after assuming various forms.
  • Shared Universe/Rewrite/Plot Hole: Hasbro recently decided that ALL of their 1980s cartoon franchises took place on the same planet. That may be fine for the G.I. Joe side of things (as noted, Checkpoint is stated to be the descendant of Beach Head, at least in the file cards — though the cartoon never explicitly states it, it never denies it, either), but it does create a problem with The Transformers, namely that one episode where the Crooks dress up as aliens and try to claim to be alien invaders. That episode states in no uncertain terms that Earth has never had any contact with aliens prior to that event (and since it was just the Crooks, they still had not). One could take that to mean that giant robots from another planet had also never stepped foot on the Earth in this series. Not that this recent retcon by Hasbro didn't have numerous issues between the other shows as-is (G.I. Joe and Transformers had some connections established even in the 80's thanks to Season 3 of Transformers, but even that had certain plot problems, too), but this one pretty blatantly goes against prior established canon in a big way.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the episode where Longarm's father tries to rejoin the force, the board of directors that signs the rejection form include Paul McCartney and Michael Jordan. When the C.O.P.S. computers list any sort of information, they are actually listing the supply inventory for the cartoon.
    • The character Checkpoint's name is Wayne Sneeden III. According to his filecard, his father was a member of a top-secret military team that operated in the '80s and '90s. The G.I. Joe member Beach Head happens to be named Wayne R. Sneeden.
    • The ending of every episode may be an homage to Dragnet, and Bulletproof's tan overcoat may be a reference to Columbo.
    • In the flashback origin episode "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1", Berzerko and Turbo are driving a van labeled "Laughing Fish Movers" (the series predates Batman: The Animated Series by several years, meaning it's a reference to the original Detective Comics story).
  • Sixth Ranger: In the second year of the toy line, both the C.O.P.S. and Big Boss' gang got several new members. (Atypically for this trope, the new characters got very little exposure in the cartoon.) The canceled third year would have introduced even more new recruits.
  • 65-Episode Cartoon
  • The Smurfette Principle: C.O.P.S. had four major female characters, two each for the C.O.P.S. and Big Boss' gang. None of them was ever made as an action figure, nor were they even planned for the unreleased third series. And to make matters worse, most of them had very few appearances (Mirage had a measly FOUR).
  • The Starscream: Ms. Demeanor in the comics. (Even in the cartoon, when she asks Big Boss if he trusts her, he specifically says no.)
  • Status Quo Is God: Despite the crooks usually being arrested at the end of any episode where they make a significant appearance and Bulletproof's closing narration that they went up the river for a long time, they're always back out by the next episode.
  • Steal the Surroundings: What the Ultimate Crime Machine does in "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1"; the bad guys use it to steal the City Mint, although the heroes predicted it. (Criminals go after loot, what building has the most of that?)
  • Suddenly Voiced: In the comics, Buzzbomb can talk in perfect English.
  • Super Civil Services: The Central Organization of Police Specialists (C.O.P.S.) is a special group of police officers with cyborg enhancements that strengthen each member's particular talents.
  • Superstition Episode: "The Case of the Bad Luck Burglar" is about Buttons McBoomBoom having a bad day after losing his lucky penny. Big Boss later gives Buttons a phony penny, but claims that it's the one he lost, only so that Buttons will stop trying to find his real lucky penny and get back to committing crimes.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: As was typical for 80's cartoons the theme usually played during the big action set piece that wrapped up the episode.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ms. Demeanor and Nightshade.
    • Mainframe and Mirage surprisingly avert this, both being relatively even handed in design. Neither is overtly "girly" (with Mainframe only investigating a beauty pageant after the surprise suggestion that she should enter) and both have shown a few tomboyish traits (Mainframe directly picking up a dead mouse and Mirage carrying Mainframe on her shoulders while running uphill on a treadmill).
    • While Ms. Demeanor is pretty blatantly a tomboy, she still gets offended if not treated like a lady.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Small Guy and his fellow gang members utilize this to pass themselves off as Mrs. Pinchadime in an attempt to fool the C.O.P.S.. Their plan is foiled by Mrs. Pinchadime's poodle, Cupcake.
  • Treasure Map: One episode centered around Big Boss trying to find the hidden loot stash of a now deceased crime boss once arrested by Longarm's father, with the only clue to its location being a carving he made in a bar of soap. When the carving is lost due to the soap getting wet, the gang kidnaps Longarm's dad, as he's the only person who's studied the soap enough to remember what the carving looked like exactly.
  • Trenchcoat Warfare: Buttons McBoomBoom
  • Turn in Your Badge: In "The Case of Big Boss' Bye-Bye", Big Boss does a 10-Minute Retirement so that a cash-strapped Empire City will lay off all of the C.O.P.S.. Bulletproof becomes a P.I., figures out Big Boss' plan, and gets everyone back on the job.
    Bulletproof: I'm placing you both under arrest!
    Ms. Demeanor: You can't do that, you're not a cop anymore!
    Bulletproof: Citizen's arrest.
  • Very Special Episode: The Drugs Are Bad episode "The Case of The Lowest Crime", where the C.O.P.S. and Crooks team up to fight the distributors of Crystal Twist. Big Boss agrees to help because "DRUGS KILL!" Apparently he forgot that he was quite willing to attempt to kill the C.O.P.S. when they foiled his own crime schemes.
    • There actually is valid logic for it, because you can't make money off of dead people, so from a business perspective drugs kill off people he could continue making money off of (one can consider his exclaiming 'drugs kill' just leaves off the 'the suckers I make money off of' due to moral watchdog requirements, something many old-school real life crime bosses held to).
    • On the other hand, he may just have a moral code. Killing police officers may have been an acceptable act if they got in the way (though more than often, he was content to capture and detain them), killing random people seemed beyond him... for that matter, why'd he let Addictem go rather than just having McBoomBoom shoot him?
      • Not that he ever actually killed anyone in the cartoon, the closest to the Crooks coming was Bulletproof's initial injury, which was an accident.
  • Video Phone: Video phones are the norm to the point that even public phone booths have screens; they are, after all, fighting crime in a future time. And yes, cell phones pretty much don't exist.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: The Boss as the Big Bad of every episode.
  • Weasel Mascot: Big Boss' pet weasel, Scratch.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: How Bulletproof and Buttons become Hollywood Cyborgs.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Zig-zagged. Empire City's location is never stated outright, though it is a coastal city with an open harbor, which would place it on the east or west coast. However, the episode with Nightshade entering the beauty pageant featured her trying to escape by crossing state lines, by driving over the bridge spanning Empire City's main river- the sign at the state border read New Jersey, which makes the most likely location somewhere in Delaware, either the Dover or Lewes region.
    • C'mon, Empire City? It's fairly obvious that's it's a futuristic New York City; New York State's nickname is the Empire State.
    • Actually, the aforementioned sign has "NEWER Jersey" written on it. Empire City would appear to be a thinly-veiled New York City or imitation/parody thereof.
  • Work Off the Debt: In "The Case of the Disappearing Dough", Sundown, Bowser and Highway have to wash dishes at the restaurant they eat at because they're unable to pay as a result of the ink on their dollars disappearing.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In "The Case of the Brilliant Berserko", Berserko exclaims "I'll capture the C.O.P.S., or the circumference of a circle isn't pi r-squared!" Except... That's the area of a circle. The circumference of a circle is 2 pi r.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Small Guy and his two henchmen look drastically different between the two episodes that they appear in.
  • You Killed My Brother: In issue #1 of the comic, Big Boss blames Bulletproof for the imprisonment and death of his identical twin brother.
    • This plot is never mentioned in the cartoon, although while it's implied that Berzerko's father is dead, he says his mother is still alive.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: In "The Case of the Kangaroo Caper", Rock Krusher discovers that the boxing kangaroo Bruce is actually female when he sees that she has a joey in her pouch.
  • Zeerust: Having been made 30 years before the show was actually set, this happens in spades.
    • Video phones are on every street corner and in every home and business, but portable phones do not exist. Modern cell phones and iPhone types aren't even close, even 80s/90s style portable phones aren't used.
    • Every computer seems to be running DOS and mice aren't ever used.
    • VHS and audio cassette tapes are still used by everyone, as are floppy disks.
    • Flying personal speeder craft and cars exist, although typical 4-wheeled cars are still used by the majority.
    • The electrical connectors Bulletproof uses to interface with computers would likely be USB or Ethernet connectors these days. Or he'd be Bluetooth-compatible.

Alternative Title(s): COPS, COPS Animated Series